Sometimes approaching people and striking up a conversation can be challenging. However, you really can talk to anyone—and do it filled with confidence.
The reasons it’s daunting to talk to someone vary. Maybe the person is someone you view as being in a position of power.
Maybe you are afraid you might have to be vulnerable with them.
Whatever your reasons are for hesitating, there are things you can do to help you talk to anyone! Now, your body might send you signals that seem to contradict this—racing pulse, sweaty palms, and flushed skin—but I promise you that you can do it!
Don’t let things hold you back
It will require you to recognize that you are afraid of something. That fear might be that they would reject you or something you have to say.
You might be worried that you will say the wrong thing and make a fool of yourself. If it is a work situation with someone you feel holds more decision-making power than you do, you might even be afraid of losing your job or getting into trouble.
The key to being able to talk to anyone and getting past your fear is to build up your confidence and just go for it! Here are a few simple ways you can start this process and learn to talk to anyone with ease.
Take time to confidently prepare yourself for the conversation
You can start building your confidence before you even approach the person you wish to speak with. One of the most important lessons you can learn is that people’s responses reflect themselves and not you.
In fact, my therapist says that this is the one thing that she wishes people would take away from their conversations with her.
The concept seems simple, but what does it actually mean? Or look like in real-life situations?
This concept is based on self-love and is one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s four agreements. His second agreement for reaching personal freedom is: Don’t Take Anything Personally.
You do not need to rely on the opinion of others. Freeing yourself from the opinion of others and understanding that every person responds the way they do because of some part of themselves is a big boost to your confidence.
Confidence can also be built by watching the way you physically approach a conversation. Make sure your body language says you are confident, and you will feel it!
Stand up straight, with your shoulders back and your head held high. Being mindful of your body is a great way to get your body language under control.
Take deep breaths and feel the air filling your lungs. Be aware of everything from your head to your toes. Now that you are a little more mentally prepared for the conversation, it is time to take the plunge!
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” — Laozi
Actionable things you can do to talk to anyone with confidence
The first thing to understand is that we build connections from the first interaction. Enter a room with your body language portraying confidence, and that is how people will perceive you.
That is your very first opportunity to make an impression, so use it and then focus on what comes next.
Make sure your first greeting is warm and friendly. Look people in the eye when you say hello (unless you are meeting someone from a culture where that is inappropriate).
Smiles are powerful, so use yours! Shake hands with strength and confidence, and speak warmly.
Let them know you are excited to meet with them and why. That might look like, “I am happy to get to meet you in person, I’ve enjoyed our phone conversations.”
Or, in a more professional setting, it might sound like, “It is a pleasure to meet you. Your emails about what your company does are intriguing!”
Watch the tone and inflection of your voice. Slow, steady, and confident is what you are shooting for here.
Speaking fast is often a sign of nervousness. This one is hard for me, as I am of Italian descent, and my entire family speaks loudly and quickly.
It is not nervousness at all—just the way I am wired. However, when I am speaking to new people, I attempt to pause and breathe. I practice speaking slower in a mirror.
Little things like that will help you master feeling more comfortable speaking.
Speaking is only part of the equation that happens when we start a conversation. If you wrote it out mathematically, it would like this: speaking+listening=rapport.
Practice active listening while the other person is responding to you. This means focusing on them when they are speaking.
Pay attention to what they are saying, and not how you think they will respond. Do not interrupt, but when they are done, ask questions for clarity.
“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
How talking to someone new impact your life
Strangers, or friends and connections you haven’t made yet, are not all scary and dangerous. Each person you meet is someone who has the potential to positively affect your life.
You just have to have the confidence to be open to the possibilities.
When I went to NY and randomly spoke with people, I could tell they thought it was weird—and way outside their comfort zone. But those strangers I spoke to were kind and helpful!
I left my visit with a ton of stories.
Our lives are made up of stories. How many stories are not being told because of our fear of speaking with others?
You never know who someone might become to you if you don’t take that first step of initiating a conversation.
You might miss out on the love of your life. Or an influential mentor or business partner. That stranger might just end up being one of your best friends!
I had a class with my husband for about a month and a half before we ended up speaking! What if I hadn’t approached him back when i was 18 in that swim class?
We wouldn’t have two amazing children and a 20-year marriage. We wouldn’t have one crazy love story to tell.
“Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?” — Walt Whitman
Give yourself permission to be a little fearless! There are tons of ways that a conversation with someone might pan out, but you won’t know unless you try.
Here are a few final tips to help continue to build your confidence and become that person who can walk up to anyone and start a conversation:
- Awkward silences might happen, and they are not your fault (the other person might also struggle with finding the right thing to say)
- Try to find common ground with the other person
- Start with small talk but don’t skirt away from every personal question
- Draw inspiration from your surroundings to help find things to say
Hopefully, each of these things can help you talk to anyone you want! Remember, confidence starts with a mindset and body language.
Then it comes through in the tone and speed of our words. Finally, listening is just as important as speaking.
You can do it!
It might take some practice to believe you are confident, but practice makes perfect. Keep building your conversational skills, and it will become easier and easier.
Remember that confidence comes down to your perception of yourself. Use things like self-affirmations and positive self-talk to remind you that you are worth it!
Let us know about some conversations that you had with someone you were nervous to talk to. How did it go? What did you learn?
Do you have any great stories to share because you looked past your fear and reached out to someone? You can use the comment section below to add any advice you have on how to talk to anyone with confidence.
September 7, 2022 9:00 AM EST